Easily the most painful loss I've ever been associated with, which is really saying something when you consider that I'm both a life-long Bengals fan and a die-hard UVA sports fan.
In the end, I guess the NFL got what they wanted, and their "made" team advanced while a new villain and public enemy #1 has emerged.
This might surprise you, but Vontaze Burfict is my favorite football player. He plays a violent game with aggression. He makes great plays. He impacts games. He gives a previously spineless team some balls.
Did he ultimately cost the Bengals the game on Saturday night? Yes.
Is he a thug, a low-life, a scumbag, a goon? Maybe he's some of those things in spurts, but no more than any of the Steelers... who are routinely lauded for their toughness, swagger, and grit. These are just words, tossed around clumsily by fans and media who struggle to reconcile the fact that they love a violent sport for being exactly what it is -- violent.
Anyway, the main points I'd like to make are:
1) Tez is public enemy #1 this week. However, I challenge fans of 31 other NFL teams to tell me that they wouldn't want him on their squad. There are three types of people in this world: People who would gladly welcome Vontaze Burfict onto their teams, liars, and losers.
2) Maybe Vontaze Burfict cost us the game on Saturday night, but without him the Bengals would have lost 29-0. So with him, as usual, you get a double-edged sword.
3) He shouldn't have hit Antonio Brown like that, but every non-Steelers fan on planet earth should be happy to see someone finally standing up and railing against the constant flow of bullshit that team pumps out onto the field.
4) Vontaze's hit on Antonio Brown was dirty, but was a mere drop in the bucket compared to the headhunting that Ryan Shazier put on Gio Bernard earlier in the game. An unflagged illegal hit, I should add, and one that removed one of the Bengals most explosive offensive weapons from the game.
5) The best analogy I can muster comes from A Christmas Story. After years of being bullied, Ralphie snaps, gets Scut Farkas down... but then can't stop punching him and cussing at him.
Anyway, fuck it. I'm done with sports for a while. Need to calm down and decompress.
In the meantime, I hope Virginia Basketball can find a way to add a little Tez to their games tonight and moving forward. We're playing soft and losing games; tonight against Miami is a must-win, lest the spiral begins in earnest. Time to show some real grit and tenacity, time to start playing with some urgency, time for a little aggression, time for some junkyard dog to come out of the Cavaliers.
It worked for the Bengals... kinda.